So you’re considering something other than the official Jenga brand — and you want the scoop about alternative jumbling towers — like KAPLA and UNO Stacko. Let’s get you up to speed!
Looking for Jenga and similar games? Not Jenga but similar? Let me give you a crystal clear overview of the top Jenga alternatives. To spot the difference — there’s more than meets the eye.
Part of that is being a product of the official Jenga trademark.
Part of that is the rules of gameplay.
On the outside, some of these towers look pretty similar — but I assure you there are stark differences in how the two “similar yet different” games are played.
Enough jumbling thoughts around — let’s set the record straight!
Demystifying The Jumbling Tower
Imagine that — a curated list of the games most easily confused with Jenga.
We’ll learn the ins and outs later in this article — (1) What they are (2) How they’re similar (3) How they’re different…
But here’s the quick-list if you’re the type of person who plays the game of life with an hourglass.
- The Jumbling Tower is what Jenga purists may call a “knock-off” — all kinds of Jenga-style tower games made by companies NOT associated with the official Jenga brand.
- Uno Stacko is a stacking tower game derived from UNO the card game — with special rules based on the UNO concept of clearing your cards.
- KAPLA Buildiers are longer, flatter stacking sticks that can be used to create elaborate tower structures beyond the capacity of Jenga — for those who covet the Jenga building world record, this is your top pick.
Jenga vs. Jumbling Towers
With so many innovative and play-worthy styles — you just can’t call jumbling towers “Fake Jenga”.
Jenga and tumbling towers — what’s the difference?
Jumbling Towers is what Jenga purists might call a “knock-off” — all kinds of Jenga-style tower games made by companies NOT associated with the official Jenga brand.
If you prefer to stick with the official Jenga brand and are looking for something new and exciting — we wrote an entire review of Official Jenga brand variations where you can find one that tickles your fancy.
On the other hand, if you’re in a “the grass is greener on the other side” mentality — here are some off-brand jumbling towers sure to spark your interest.
One of them literally shocks you with a small electrical pulse to add to the suspense of the stacking game.
Custom engraving your name or business logo into each jumbling block makes a memorable gift for all kinds of occasions. It’s 2021, and getting your one-of-a-kind personalized jumbling tower doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Looking for a little color while you’re playing Jenga? Various off-brand Jenga imitations boast really excellent color schemes. From contemporary pastels to bright primary rainbow — find one that matches your mood.
Made of plastic with each piece shaped like a sushi roll — here’s a dash of East Asian spice on the Jenga game popular in the West.
This just goes to prove what an all-around healthy game Jenga turns out to be. Certain jumbling towers approach to fun and laughter from a therapeutic perspective. With cards that help people of all ages express their emotions — that’s a great way to break out of your shell and learn to communicate more deeply with other souls.
I couldn’t help but laugh — this one’s probably got the opposite effect on your mental health. It’s glow-in-the-dark — but the real zinger will electrocute you while you’re trying to remove the block. Yikes!
Wedding Guest Book
Now we’re back on track with the sweet and celebratory! Some natural wood jumbling tower sets are specifically designed for guests at your event to write their signatures and best wishes on a block. Your wedding was just one day, but the memory of your cherished friends and family at the wedding will forever remain — on the jumbling tower.
Since we like to keep things around here G-rated and child-appropriate — I won’t go into the details here. Let’s just say — college students will like certain sets for their weekend festivities. And couples may find certain sets intriguing to explore with their partner.
Here’s a backyard favorite for all ages! Yes, the official Jenga brand offers a giant Jenga set — but it’s plain compared to the fancy giant jumbling towers out there. Beautiful wedding-ready for an entertaining game at the reception.
Made With Hardwood
Some official Jenga brand toys get pretty pricey — over $100. So let’s please lose the stereotype that Jenga’s a cheap toy. For that matter — here’s a type of jumbling tower that proves they’re not just “cheap knock-offs” too. Premium quality down to the case the blocks come in — we’re talking all-natural premium-cut hardwood for a top-quality jumbling tower that’ll last generations.
Made With Exotic Wood
To my fellow wooden toy aficionados, I declare — the line doesn’t end at hardwood. Wooden toymakers across the world revel in the concept behind Jenga blocks — so much that the most esoteric handcrafters fashion jumbling towers using rare and exotic woods. From the South American rainforest to the Eastern European Alps — take a world tour of the exotic wood Jenga-style towers.
Made Of Metal
When I ran across this metal-wire tabletop balance game for kids and adults — phew! I just couldn’t help myself. I know it’s not super-similar to Jenga — but I think it checks all the boxes when it comes to a family game room balancing activity. Enjoy!
Jenga vs. Uno Stacko
A colorful party-ready alternative for UNO fans and people who like the group gameplay aspect of Jenga.
Uno Stacko is a stacking tower game derived from UNO the card game — with special rules based on the UNO concept of clearing your cards.
Debuting back in 1994 — Mattel’s UNO Stacko has caused serious Jenga controversy for about three decades now!
This is the story of Mattel (UNO) — a competitor to Hasbro (Jenga) — who made their own colored stacking blocks game to go head-to-head with Jenga.
UNO remains relatively unknown compared to Jenga’s worldwide popularity — so it turns out Jenga won the center stage.
If you’re loyal to the Jenga brand and want a Jenga set with more pizazz — I highly recommend Jenga Onyx Edition (super popular right now) or Jenga Rustic Series Stained Wood Collector’s Edition (my personal favorite).
But UNO’s spin-off is an interesting alternative! It combines the strategy of the UNO card game with chunky physical Jenga play.
Just like Jenga — the object of the games is to NOT cause the tower to fall over. To play, you pull a card with a number on it.
Then you need to pull a piece from the tower with a matching number.
Then you need to re-stack the UNO block at the top.
Things get a little crazy when you pull an action card — Reverse Blocks, Skip Blocks, Wild Blocks — intimidating feats introduce chaos into an otherwise fair game.
Jenga vs. KAPLA Blocks
Extreme wooden stacking planks — an upgrade for people who like building structures with Jenga blocks.
Your Jenga tower falls down. You stack it back up and start again. Yawn!
You can only play Jenga so many times before that curious little architect inside your mind gets the best of you.
If that sounds like you (or your 3 to 12 year old) — someone who loves building different towers with Jenga — then you’re going to love KAPLA planks.
Jenga blocks are little wooden bricks you can stack up like bricks.
KAPLA blocks are little wooden plans you can stack up into detailed life-size structures. (Or small tabletop KAPLA buildings too.)
Invented by a Netherlands art historian in 1987 — Tom van der Bruggen — the secret to KAPLA blocks is their unique height to width to length ratio at 1:3:5.
Somehow it turns out the 1:3:5 measure is a scientific phenomenon for blocks that are stable to stack with no glue, tape, or screws.
Like imagination and fine motor skills times infinity — there are literally limitless intricate structures you and your child can think up.
To stack structures taller than your child, the 200-piece set offers the right number of stacking planks. This one’s the overall best KAPLA starter pack you can buy.
If you’re not ready for the full commitment — try the 100-piece set.
Or for a contemporary playroom feel — try their eight-color case (includes 100 pieces).
KAPLA planks are so versatile — people write entire books with KAPLA building ideas.
Try saying giant jumbo jumbling Jenga five times fast!
With such an out-of-the-box variety of crazy jumbling towers to choose from — that’s the reason why you’d consider a generic jumbling tower over an official Jenga tower.
The original idea indeed came from Jenga — and these other companies are essentially copycats.
But copy cats have been wildly successful in adding their own unique twists — both style-wise and rule-wise.
Tradition or innovation — which will rule the kingdom of jumbling tower honor? That’s for you to decide!